Tag Archives: melanie griffith

Night Moves (1975)

night moves 1

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 7 out of 10

4-Word Review: Searching for runaway teen.

Harry Moseby (Gene Hackman) is a down-on-his-luck former football player who is now working as a private detective. The cases are not interesting and when his wife (Susan Clark) begins having an affair he feels like his life has hit rock bottom. Then he gets what he thinks is just another routine case which is finding the missing runaway teenage daughter (Melanie Griffith) of an aging, alcoholic actress (Janet Ward). The case though harbors many dark and unexpected turns that eventually gets Harry wrapped up into a world of art smuggling and murder.

To me one of the lasting impressions of the film, which I have seen many times over the years, is the way it incorporates nighttime into the story. The majority of the action and dialogue take place very late and makes full use of the sound of the night bugs croaking and chirping. In fact this becomes ‘the music’ for the scenes and helps create a third character as it reveals the darkness harboring inside the characters.

Hackman gives another outstanding performance playing a protagonist struggling against loneliness and frustration while realizing that it may be an inevitable part of life and something that cannot be ‘defeated’. His best line comes when he describes where he was when the Kennedys were shot. When John F. was assassinated he was playing football and still full of dreams, but then 5 years later when Bobby was killed his life had already fallen into an apathetic rut.

Jennifer Warren is good in support and looks terrific during a topless lovemaking scene. Griffith, Edward Binns and James Woods do quite well in their respective roles and the lesser-known Janet Ward plays a pathetic, boozing old broad about as well as anyone could.

The majority of the story is talky, but still intriguing. The only action comes near the end when Harry gets attacked by a seaplane while he is out on a boat. This scene is especially good because it plays off of the famous airplane segment in North by Northwest and is almost as riveting including the memorable and unique way Harry is finally able to identify the mysterious pilot.

The script, by Alan Sharp is overall smart, but does suffer from a few moments where things don’t make complete sense. One of those is when Griffith finds out that Harry plans on taking her back to her mother which she insists will ‘never’ happen, but then in the next shot we see her getting into his car, which I would think she’d resist doing for fear that she would be placing herself into too much of a vulnerable position and he would use the opportunity to ‘kidnap’ her and take her back to where she didn’t want to go.

Another moment comes when Griffith leaves a message on his answering machine that alerts Harry about something she feels he should look into. He begins listening to it, but then shuts it off when his wife enters the room yet he never goes back to listen to the rest of it even after Griffith later turns up dead.

When a death occurs on a movie set Harry is the one who gets called in to analyze the film footage showing the mishap, which isn’t realistic as the police would’ve been the ones doing the investigation and they most likely would’ve confiscated the footage in order to be used later as possible evidence.

night moves 2

My Rating: 7 out of 10

Released: June 11, 1975

Runtime: 1Hour 39Minutes

Rated R

Director: Arthur Penn

Studio: Warner Brothers

Available: DVD, Amazon Instant Video, YouTube

Joyride (1977)

joyride 2

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 4 out of 10

4-Word Review: This joyride turns joyless.

Scott (Desi Arnaz Jr.) is bored with his job and finds that his friend John (Robert Carradine) is too. With John’s girlfriend Susie (Melanie Griffith) in tow they decide to drive up to Alaska where they hope to get jobs on the pipeline. Unfortunately they end up facing a lot of unexpected problems and eventually are forced into robbery with the Canadian Mounted Police hot on their tail.

The film was written and directed by Joseph Ruben who later went on to do much better things, but this isn’t too bad for the most part. It has a good pace without any of the static drama or wooden dialogue typical with these types of features during that era. The situations are for the most part believable and mildly engrossing. The film also features two very unique scenes including that of a genuine pissing contest, which John wages and wins with some fellow bar patrons and a scene where the trio is forced to eat dog food that by the looks on their faces seems to have been the real thing.

Unfortunately the film tends to ramble and takes a lot of predictable dramatic twists while failing to add any new perspective to it. The characters seem ill-prepared for many of the expected problems that they face, which any sensible viewer could’ve predicted would happen from the get-go. It’s also unrelentingly downbeat. I was expecting a little more frivolity and humor, which could’ve helped and I also thought it was unrealistic that every person they meet in the town turns out to be corrupt, conniving or mean.

It’s interesting to some extent to see the next generation of baby boomers or those who were too young to get involved in the protest movement during the 60’s, but still trying to carry on the counter-culture torch during the mid and late 70’s. The four leads are all offspring of famous celebrities, which is the film’s one true novelty and I couldn’t help but wonder while I viewed this what their presumably more conservative parents must’ve thought while watching their kids in this playing characters that are quite jaded and with no shortage of sex, nudity and cursing.

Arnaz Jr. is the weakest link and quite transparent while lacking the charisma needed for a lead actor. Carradine is good and it’s nice seeing him not playing a nerd type. Griffith is cute and there’s even a glimpse of her bare bottom during one segment when she flashes some passing motorists. The most dynamic performance though goes to Anne Lockhart who appears later on and acts as a love interest for Scott. Her character is sassy and real while helping add some needed dynamics and it’s a shame she didn’t stay for the entire duration.

The second half where they decide to rob the payroll department and then go on a mad car chase across the northern Canada has a few fun moments. Unfortunately the viewer is left hanging as we are never shown if they ultimately get away or are caught, which is frustrating and ends up being a cop-out of the highest order.

My Rating: 4 out of 10

Released: June 6, 1977

Runtime: 1Hour 32Minutes

Rated R

Director: Joseph Ruben

Studio: American International Pictures

Available: DVD

Working Girl (1988)

working girl

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 6 out of 10

4-Word Review: She’s moving on up.

Tess (Melanie Griffith) is a 30-year-old secretary working at an acquisition and investment firm on Wall Street and looking to move her way up. She comes up with an investment strategy for one of the company’s clients and passes the idea off to her boss Katherine (Sigourney Weaver) who says she’ll run the idea by some of her superiors. A few days later Katherine tells Tess that her idea was not well received and then Katherine goes on a skiing trip and breaks her leg. In her absence Tess looks after Katherine’s house and finds a memo on Katherine’s home computer were she tries to make Tess’s investment idea seem like her own. Tess decides to get her revenge by pretending to have more authority than she does and going directly to the client with her idea. In the process she meets fellow executive Jack (Harrison Ford) who helps her with her ploy while also starting up a romance with her.

The movie starts out well creating a believable office atmosphere that nicely balances the humor that keeps everything on a realistic believable level. Too many times office comedies have characterizations that are too broad, which thankfully is not the case here. The romance between Jack and Tess is not forced and the sparkle they share seems real and does not bog down the story like in certain films, but instead helps compel it.

Unfortunately the second half falls too much into the same old formula. The climatic showdown is protracted and contrived. Certain twists are thrown in that instead of making the story more interesting helps only to make it less believable. The wrap-up is too neat and tidy as well as having a Frank Capraesque quality that get poured on too strong ultimately making this film despite its good start fluffy and superficial.

Griffith does well in the lead. She plays a character that is relatable and likable although I did feel that she becomes discouraged a little too easily. I also didn’t like the way that she goes back to her boyfriend Mick (Alec Baldwin) even after she caught him cheating on her, which to me seemed to make her weak. Although the film features a plethora of women with the puffy 80’s hairstyle (for some reason you will probably see more of that hairstyle here than in just about any other 80’s movie) I felt it looked great on her. The scene where she is walking down the street after she has it cut short and wave put in it makes her look almost exactly like her mother Tippi Hedren in The Birds.

Ford is again impressive while he takes a role that tests his acting range and on-screen persona. Instead of being the dominating self-assured character that he usually is he instead is more pensive and subdued while letting the women around dominate the proceedings. He is also quite amusing. The scene where he warns Tess about his potentially messy apartment is funny as is the part where he puts on a new dress shirt while still in his office. However, his best moment comes with the amusing way he gets himself out of a jam when he is caught going to the bathroom while inside the stall of a ladies restroom.

Baldwin is perfect as the no-good boyfriend. He looks downright boyish here almost like he is barely out of puberty. He also gets the film’s best line, which occurs when Tess walks in on him in bed with a naked woman on top of him and he states “This is not what it looks like.”

The only performance that I did have a problem with was Joan Cusack as Tess’s friend Cyn. Her Brooklyn accent is much too heavy and her puffy hairstyle looks larger than her entire head. Her eye shadow gives her almost a clown-like appearance and whether she was intended for comic-relief or not nothing she says is funny.

Carly Simon scores with her rousing theme ‘Let the River Run’, which won the Academy Award. The aerial shot of the Statue of Liberty that is shown at the beginning as well as the Manhatten skyline captured during the closing credits ties in nicely with Carly’s vocals.

Spoiler Alert!

The twist which comes during the second half where it is found that Jack is secretly seeing Katherine as his girlfriend was too much of a coincidence that did not make the story more interesting. There is clearly no chemistry between Katherine and Jack in their scene together and it is the one spot in the film where things get overblown. It also makes Weaver’s character needlessly campy and deluded. Having Tess accidently drop her day planner literally at Katherine’s feet, which is where she finds out about Tess’s involvement with Jack is way, way, waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too convenient and a serious sign of weak and uninspired writing on behalf of screenwriter Kevin Wade.

My Rating: 6 out of 10

Released: December 21, 1988

Runtime: 1Hour 53Minutes

Rated R

Director: Mike Nichols

Studio: 20th Century Fox

Available: VHS, DVD, Amazon Instant Video